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Commodities

Why do big companies refuse to produce more oil and gas production?

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produce more oil and gas production

Major companies are refusing to produce more oil and gas production. The energy giants are still reeling from the recent collapse in oil prices and are unwilling to take risks.

Now that oil prices are much higher than $100/bbl, you can hear the question on every corner: why don’t the world’s energy giants take advantage of such a good opportunity and drill huge numbers of new wells to make billions on high prices?

The World Community is Asking OPEC to Produce More Oil

There are many reasons for this strange behavior, but analysts generally name three. Firstly, oil companies have not yet fully digested the trillion-dollar losses of the last decade. Second, expensive gasoline does not yet mean high profits for oil companies to justify the development of new fields. 

And third, the growing popularity of electric vehicles makes most oil companies satisfied with the bird in the hand in the form of already developed wells, which now bring good profits; rather than chasing the crane in the sky, i.e., super profits, the hunt for which carries huge risks. Will Saudi Arabia produce more oil? 

There is no definite answer. The first reason – the losses of the past years are mostly psychological in nature, but this does not make them any less strong. Because of the collapse in the oil markets in the middle of the last decade, oil companies lost over $1 trillion. For example, among the four oil giants covering all areas of the oil industry, from exploration of new fields to equipment and well maintenance: Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum, Transocean and Halliburton, only one company – Shell – managed to make money rather than incur billions of dollars in losses in 2014-18.

It also answers the question of why Canada doesn’t produce more oil. The events of 2014-20 taught oil workers to be cautious and to always remember that high prices can collapse at any moment, and that a company that forgot about this and invested all its money in exploration and expansion of production is likely to go bankrupt.

Life has taught oil companies that it is safer to be conservative regarding costs, i.e. not to invest everything they have, no matter how much they might want to, in exploration and production. That’s why many oil companies have such low budgets for these items, despite the ideal market situation.

It might seem that you can forget about caution when prices are at, say, $120 per barrel, but the fact is that the oil markets are not ruled by arithmetic, but rather by higher mathematics.

For example, the oil markets are now in a situation described by the English word “backwardation,” when oil prices are currently higher than futures prices. In deciding whether to invest in new wells, an oil company director should analyze not the current oil prices. but the prices of the time when the first barrels of oil will be extracted from the new wells. If, for example, we are talking about the end of 2023, we can expect to be able to sell it for a maximum of $78 a barrel. That’s well below $97.5 a barrel on the spot market. Earlier, producers began to produce more oil as Iran’s supply fell. 

If you add conservative thinking to backwardness, it becomes more or less clear why new wells are not growing like mushrooms after the rain and why oilmen and investors are in no hurry to “bury” big money in the ground.

Situation in the oil markets is slowly changing

Despite the above-mentioned reasons, the situation in the oil markets is slowly changing. The number of working rigs has now reached a two-year high, and in the next few months it may reach pre-pandemic levels.

Production is growing very slowly, but still. But it is not growing fast enough if there is a collapse in oil prices. This means that the cash flows that oil companies are generating at the moment should continue indefinitely until demand drops.

Contributing to oil companies’ reluctance to take risks and invest in new production are electric cars. Last year, one in 12 new cars sold was electric (8.6%). Data for the first six months of 2022 suggest that this figure could grow by about 50%.

Naturally, such rapid development of electric cars cannot help but get on the nerves, and confidence of oil companies. Few people want to increase production when they realize that the main consumer of oil, i.e. cars, is increasingly switching to electricity.

Commodities

Oil settles slightly higher as Iran plays down reported Israeli attack

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By Nicole Jao

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Oil settled slightly higher on Friday, but posted a weekly decline, after Iran played down a reported Israeli attack on its soil, a sign that an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East might be avoided.

Brent futures settled up 18 cents, or 0.21%, at $87.29 a barrel.

The front month U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude contract for May ended 41 cents higher, or 0.5%, to $83.14 a barrel. The more active June contract closed 12 cents higher at $82.22 a barrel.

Both benchmarks spiked more than $3 a barrel earlier in the session after explosions were heard in the Iranian city of Isfahan in what sources described as an Israeli attack. However, the gains were capped after Tehran played down the incident and said it did not plan to retaliate.

“It was nothing but a big show, and so the markets deflated as quickly as they spiked,” said Tim Snyder, economist at Matador Economics.

Investors had been closely monitoring Israel’s response to Iranian drone and missile attacks on April 13 that was in turn a response to a presumed Israeli air strike on April 1 that destroyed a building in Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers have added sanctions on Iran’s oil exports to a pending Ukraine aid package after Tehran’s strike on Israel last weekend.

Iran is the third largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), according to Reuters data.

The International Monetary Fund expects OPEC+ to begin increasing oil output from July, media reported on Friday.

OPEC+ members, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, last month agreed to extend voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of June. That has helped keep oil prices elevated.

As oil’s risk premium has gradually unwound, prices have fallen around 3% since Monday. Both benchmarks posted their biggest weekly loss since February.

Investors, however, are not ruling out the possibility that Middle Eastern tensions will disrupt supply.

Analysts from Goldman Sachs and Commerzbank (ETR:) raised their forecasts on Friday, taking into account geopolitical tensions as well as the prospect of rising demand and restrained supply by OPEC and allies (OPEC+).

“Oil demand is growing at a healthy pace, and supply should be constrained due to the extensions of the voluntary production cuts of OPEC+,” UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said.

U.S. energy firms this week added oil and rigs for the first time in five weeks, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report on Friday.

© Reuters. The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S., November 22, 2019.  REUTERS/Angus Mordant/File Photo

The oil and gas rig count, an early indicator of future output, rose by 2 to 619 in the week to April 19.

Money managers cut their net long futures and options positions in the week to April 16, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.

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Commodities

Oil prices in weekly loss as prospect of Iran-Israel escalation cools

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Investing.com– Oil prices fell to weekly loss despite settling higher in volatile trade Friday as investors cooled bets on a wider Middle East conflict after Isreal launched measured attacks on Iran and the latter signaled little appetite to escalated the tit-for-tat skirmish. 

At 14:30 ET (18:30 GMT), rose 0.5% to $83.14 a barrel, while rose 0.3% to $87.33 a barrel. Both contracts ended the week about 3% lower as a stronger dollar on expectations for higher for longer U.S. interest rates weighed. 

Middle East tensions back in focus after Iran explosions

Both benchmarks had soared 3% earlier Friday following reports of the missile strikes in Iran, but geopolitical tensions cooled after Iran played down the attack and appeared to signal no intention to retaliate. 

Iran’s Fars News Agency saying explosions were heard in Isfahan in central Iran, in parts of southern Syria and in parts of Iraq. ABC news reported that U.S. officials said Israel had retaliated against Iran.

Israel’s response following Iran’s attacks against Tel Aviv last week, which was in retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike on an embassy in Damascus/

UN reports recently showed Iran was enriching uranium up to 60%, which was more than levels required for commercial power generation. But it was also below the 90% enrichment level required for an atomic bomb. 

Baker Hughes rig count rises 

Oilfield services firm Baker Hughes Co (NYSE:BKR) reported its weekly U.S. rig count, a leading indicator of future production, rose to 511 from 506, signalling a step up in drilling activity amid a boost from higher oil prices. 

The number of oil rigs are still lagging behind the nearly 600 rig count seen at the same time last year, but domestic oil output is still expected to hit record highs this year as drillers continue to boost efficiency by focusing on the most promising drilling sites. 

Goldman lifts oil forecasts 

“After rallying sharply to just over $90/bbl on rising geopolitical risks, Brent prices have declined to $87/bbl,” said analysts at Goldman Sachs, in a note.

We still see a $90/bbl ceiling on Brent in our base case of nogeopolitical supply hits,” the influential investment bank said. “The reasons are that high spare capacity and higher prices will likely lead OPEC+ to raise production in Q3, inventories remain flat over the past year, and prices are already triggering stabilizing responses, including rises in OPEC exports and lower crude demand from the US SPR and refineries.”

That said, the bank lifts its floor for Brent to $75 a barrel, from $70, saying it assumes only a gradual normalization in the risk premium, and think that OPEC will manage to keep spot prices above long-dated prices through a smaller unwind of production cuts than we assumed before.

Additionally, “we still see value in long oil positions given significant portfolio hedging benefits against geopolitical shocks, and an attractive 10% annualized roll yield.”

It also lifts its Brent forecast to $86 a barrel for the second half of 2024, versus $85 prior, and to $82 a barrel for 2025, from $80.

(Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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Gold’s glittering run set for bumpy ride as rate-cut expectations suffer blow

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Investing.com — has glittered its way to record highs on a diet of geopolitical tensions, a weaker dollar, sluggish real yields, but with rate cut expectations suffering a major blow, the yellow metal’s run could soon be on borrowed time. 

“We would not add gold exposure at current prices, and view it as vulnerable on a 6-12 month horizon as forward markets will further unwind Fed rate cut expectations and bond yields have more upside,” Strategists at MRB Partners said in a Friday note.

Gold prices have been riding a perfect macroeconomic storm higher that started in October last year and picked up pace in mid-February against a backdrop of broadly flat real U.S. interest rates and a stable U.S. dollar, the strategists added.

But in recent weeks the dollar and the level of bond yields, particularly real yields, the two dominant cyclical drivers of gold, have been on the up and up, paving the way to a much bumpier path higher for the yellow metal. 

The jump in yields followed a slew of hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve officials including from chairman Jerome Powell, who earlier this week signaled that the recent upside surprises to inflation have knocked the Fed’s confidence to begin cutting rates. 

Traders now see the Fed’s first rate cut in September rather than June, with just two rate cuts priced in for this year, compared with the six or seven estimated previously, and fewer than the three cuts for 2024 that the Fed had projected at its March meeting.      

Gold has, however, appreciated despite this backdrop of higher yields and a stronger dollar, but is 

“now quite overbought,” the strategists warned. The precious metal’s resilience could likely be explained by ongoing momentum as well as a jump in demand for safe-haven assets following a step up in geopolitical tensions.  

Gold’s strength appears to “reflect momentum rather than any specific driver of performance,” MRB Partners said.

But major chinks in gold’s armor may not appear until central bank remove the excess liquidity sloshing around markets.   

“We believe that gold will continue to receive support for as long as there is easy money being provided by central banks,” the strategists added.

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